We're proud to be the Greenest Fair on Earth! The award-winning Marin County Fair combines the red, white and blue of America’s history with the green of American’s future in sustainability by integrating environmental stewardship at the Fair.
The Marin County Fair presents the first solar-powered carousel at a county fair. Thanks to the large solar array and lighting retrofit by Butler Amusements, this Americana carousel - featuring 18 jumping horses and one Columbia chariot will carry 40 passengers. The solar array generates 10 KW of sun power to run the ride. The carousel, retrofitted with 1,200 energy efficient LED lights and a single-phase motor designed to reduce energy, is powered by a portable solar array.
The Community Solar Stage, powered by solar panels, soaks up the sun to run the stage sound and LED lighting systems. The solar panels generate 83 amps (10 KW) rather than grid power. Over 300 community groups and individuals perform on the Three Twins Solar Stage, the first solar-powered stage at a county fair.
Bio Fuels Power Concerts
Thanks to a green generator from Cresco, the Play Fair Pavilion concert stage is powered by 99% vegetable oil biodiesel. This generator kicks out 105 KW to run the entire sound and lighting system for the main stage. This will be the eighth year the Fair has powered their main stage concerts with the cleaner energy of bio-fuels.
Harnessing The Wind
The propeller-free Windspire vertical turbine serves as a leading-edge renewable energy demonstration project and showcases the future of wind energy. Made by Mariah Power, this bird-friendly, quiet and safe 30’ tall wind turbine generates about 1,800 KW hours annually to run nearby exterior lighting outside the entrance of Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium. This is the first wind turbine installed at the fairgrounds in California.
Marin Clean Energy
The electricity that isn’t generated directly from the fairgrounds’ on-site solar array will be 100% carbon-free thanks to the Fairgrounds participation in Marin Clean Energy’s Deep Green service which includes solar and wind power. By using Deep Green, the Fairgrounds are supporting the development of new, local renewable energy projects including a 10.5 megawatt solar farm in Richmond.
Waste Diversion (Recycling and Composting) Sets Fair Records!
Conservation Corps North Bay, Marin Sanitary Service, and Revolutionary Green diverted a record 94% of waste at the 2015 Marin County Fair. Through coordinated services and planning, more than 28 tons of recycling and 80 tons of compost were collected, setting a waste diversion record for the "Greenest County Fair on Earth."
Led by Eli Goodsell, Conservation Corps North Bay staff and corps members collect and sort 4,369 lbs. of recycling at 100 recycling bins and Eco-Stations located throughout the county fair. Materials included glass, aluminum, HDPE (plastic #2), plastic #1, paper, mixed plastic and cardboard.
Thanks to the leadership and composting services of Marin Sanitary Service, on-site support of Teresa Bradley of Revolutionary Green, Conservation Corps North Bay collection and sorting of compostable products, participation of the Fair’s 35 food and beverage vendors, and over 105,000 guests, 38.4 tons of compostables were collected:
- Food waste from 35 vendors – corn husks from roasted corn to avocado skins from guacamole preparation: 2.76 tons;
- Compostables from Fair guests including biodegradable paper plates, hot and cold cups, napkins, utensils, left-over food waste and paper towel collection from 14 fairground restrooms: 5.64 tons;
- Agricultural waste from the Barnyard area was collected by Marin Sanitary Service and composted on site: 30 tons.
The food waste and compostable products were picked up by Marin Sanitary Service and taken to their biocell for waste in San Rafael. The “waste” was cured in the cell indoors (with no methane emissions). When it was done, the waste was used as compost. Marin Sanitary will return the finished compost to the fairgrounds as a beneficial soil amendment for landscaping and planter beds.
The total waste diversion rate jumped from 74% in 2009 to 90% for the 2010 Marin County Fair – 90% of the total solid waste generated during the fair was diverted from the waste stream through recycling and composting. The 2019 Fair celebrated 91% waste diversion.
Food and Beverage
The Fair strives to offer healthy food options for Fair guests:
- Healthy Food Choices are featured on all 32 concessionaires’ menus.
- All concessionaires use biodegradable or compostable cups, plates, flatware, dishes, bowls, etc.
- Food concessionaires work with the services of Conservation Corps North Bay, Marin Sanitary Services and Revolutionary Green to collect pre-consumer organic food waste and post-consumer leftover food, and compostable plates, flatware, etc. This food waste will be picked up daily by Marin Sanitary Service for delivery to their bio-cell in San Rafael. The waste will turn into compost in the bio-cell and be returned to the Fair for use in fairgrounds gardens and landscaping.
- North Bay Restaurant Services collects cooking oil from all 32 vendors for re-use as bio-diesel at their filling stations in Sonoma County.
- To conserve electricity, exterior marquee and decorative lights are turned off at all outdoor food trailers all day until 7 p.m.
Since 2018 the Marin County Fair has partnered with Marin-based company ExtraFood.org. Tons upon tons of healthy, fresh food are thrown into landfills in Marin, creating an enormous environmental problem. Yet one in five Marin County residents worry about where their next meal is coming from. There is enough healthy food for all in Marin, but there has been a critical, missing link between those who have it and those who need it. ExtraFood fills that gap.
The Fair partnered with ExtraFood staff to locate food donations that match their partners’ needs — fresh produce, prepared food, dairy, eggs, meat, packaged goods, and baked goods. Volunteers picked up and delivered the food to communities in need focusing on the areas of greatest need, especially the "food deserts" of the Canal, Marin City, and West Marin, where residents lack access to healthy, fresh, affordable food.
On the last day of the Fair, food vendors donated their “leftovers” to be collected by ExtraFood. Leftovers were stored in the catering refrigerator, collected, and disseminated to families in need throughout Marin County. ExtraFood.org picked up 880 pounds of excess fresh food from our Fair food vendors and delivered it to nonprofits serving Marin’s most vulnerable children, adults, and families, addressing the critical issues of hunger, wasted food, and global warming.
List of the food collected from Fair vendors:
- Shredded lettuce
- Red & green peppers
- Bagged lettuce
- Chocolate milk
- Chinese noodles
- Corn on the cob
- Romaine lettuce
- French fries
- Hot dog and sandwich rolls
- Paper cups
- Bottled Water
By participating in this program, our food vendors saved money on any disposal or recycling fees, reducing waste, and helping the hungry. Plus, they got a tax deduction!
Composting & Recycling Services
The Conservation Corps North Bay, Marin Sanitary Service, and Revolutionary Green offer composting and recycling services during the Fair, including:
- 60 Eco Stations throughout the fairgrounds collect left-over food waste and compostable table-ware (plates, cups, dishes, etc.) at food courts and locations throughout the fairgrounds. Friendly and knowledgeable Conservation Corps North Bay staff greet Fair guests and guide them through the process of selecting the diversion for the three containers: recycle, compost and landfill.
- Conservation Corps North Bay staff tour the fairgrounds to collect plastic bottles, aluminum cans, glass bottles, and cardboard.
- 50 recycling blue toters are located at food courts and on the fairgrounds to collect plastic bottles, courtesy of Conservation Corps North Bay.
- 30 E-Z Lite Recycler Eco Stations are located adjacent to, and near, key food courts and crossroad locations. These new stations have bins to Recycle - Compost - Landfill. E-Z Lite Recyclers are durable and ultimately...recyclable. These containers complete the recycling loop because the manufacturer, Specialized Packaging Solutions of Newark, will recycle them at the end of their use.
- Conservation Corps North Bay and Fair staff collect left-over paper towels from all 14 indoor fair restrooms for composting.
Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium
In 2010, all of the lighting fixtures were replaced with energy-conserving bulbs and fixtures in the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium. The 39-year old HVAC was replaced with modern, energy-efficient unit ¬thanks to support of the California Energy Commission. Together, these improvements result in an estimated annual savings of 160,700 KWh and cost savings of $20,000 annually.
All of the lighting fixtures in the Exhibit Hall and Meeting Rooms were replaced with energy-conserving fluorescent bulbs. This lighting retrofit creates savings of nearly $20,000 per year, while improving lighting levels and quality. The 35-year-old HVAC units in the Exhibit Hall were replaced with five new energy-efficient units, resulting in cost savings of about $28,500 per year, while improving comfort and reliability, thanks to the support of California Energy Commission.
All of this is particularly important with the passage of State of California Assembly Bill 32 that mandates the reduction of greenhouse gases. These two projects eliminated the emission of 122,000 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere annually, which is equal to the amount offset by about 16 acres of trees.
Energy-efficient LED lighting was installed on the marquee reader board on Highway 101.
The Fair staff uses a fleet of all-electric carts (rather than gas-powered ones) for Fair operations. These carts are plugged-in overnight at the Exhibit Hall building, site of the Fair’s solar panels.
To conserve electricity, all exterior marquee and decorative lights are turned off all day at all 32 carnival rides until 7 pm.
Butler Amusements is Shining New Lights!
The iconic Marin County Fair ride, the Giant Ferris Wheel, was retrofitted with the latest in LED (light emitting diode) thanks to Butler Amusements, who replaced the turbo lights on this very popular Fair ride. The Ring of Fire and Super Shot Drop Tower also were retrofitted, joining the Ferris wheel in using 90% less power!
The Giant Ferris is a whopping 90 feet high and is equipped with 2,500 LED modulars, with each modular containing 24 individual LEDs. Its consumption has now gone from 130kw to only 76kw! The Ring of Fire is a towering 60-foot tall ride and 4,000 new LEDs will bring the load from 120kw to just 93kw. The Super Shot Drop Tower is nearly 100 feet high and is illuminated with 2,264 LED modulars, but its energy consumption will plummet from 62kw to just 34kw.
Thanks to rebates from the Marin Municipal Water District, 23 Sloan Waterfree Urinals are installed in the five men’s restrooms of the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium and Exhibit Hall buildings. By using the touch-free, completely hygienic Sloan Waterfree system, the fairgrounds conserve an average of 40,000 gallons of fresh water per urinal, annually. In total, the fairgrounds conserve approximately 920,000 gallons of fresh water per year.
Thanks to the support of the Marin Municipal Water District, water-efficient, 1.6 gallon toilet fixtures have been installed in all fairgrounds restrooms.
Water Refill Stations
Since 2017, the Marin County Fair has partnered with FloWater to encourage fairgoers to bring their own refillable water bottles to the Fair. FloWater’s mission is to inspire the world with the most premium water on the planet. Using the newest technology in water Refill Stations, they produce water that tastes and hydrates better than anything in a single-use bottle, delivered into your reusable bottle. They are driven by passion and purpose, committed to sustainability, and relentless in providing people everywhere with the highest quality water available. Their mission is in perfect harmony with the green and sustainable focus of the Marin County Fair.
FloWater installed ten water stations throughout the fairgrounds to encourage fairgoers to bring their own refillable water bottles to hydrate throughout the day. The Refill Stations are located adjacent to the Giant Ferris Wheel, on the Island in the concert pavilion, and outside the Exhibit Hall building.
In 2018 alone, the Marin County Fair saved 33,966 bottles from going into the landfill. Fairgoers took great advantage of the Refill Stations and appreciate and support our efforts with this initiative.
- There was 407,592 oz. / 3,184.31 gallons of water used from the source vs filling up plastic bottles.
- It takes 3x the volume of water to make a plastic water bottle than it does to fill it. The Marin County Fair saved 1,222,776 oz. / 9,553 gallons of water from being used solely for the manufacture of 33,966 plastic bottles.
- It takes four oz. of oil to make one plastic water bottle (pumping, processing, transportation and refrigeration). Marin County Fair saved 135,864 oz. of oil, the equivalent of 25 barrels of oil.
Water Efficient Landscaping
Partnering with the Department of Parks and Open Space, the Fair practices these water efficient landscape practices:
The fairgrounds saves fresh water by having the lawns, gardens and landscaping irrigated by recycled water provided by the Las Gallinas Sanitary District.
Recycled water is also in use at the new restrooms at the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium and Lagoon Park.
Staff uses the landscaping techniques of sheet mulching, adjusts irrigation schedules for each season, and inspects and maintains irrigation systems regularly.
Three John Deere Eagle Irrigation Control Clocks predict temperature, wind, soil and planting conditions to conserve water and irrigate the lawns, trees, and landscaping only when needed. These California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) controllers are linked to weather stations and satellites all over the state and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Rawhide Express Train
This all-electric, solar-powered trackless train will take Fair guests on excursion rides 12 noon to 6pm daily.
Hands-on, interactive educational exhibits and demonstrations showcase sustainable themes. Marin Master Gardeners use compost collected at the Fair cured in the bio-cell at Marin Sanitary Services. Marin Master Gardeners will create new gardens to showcase the benefits of composting and container gardening and present a series of sustainability workshops.
Fair signage is made of recyclable and reusable materials:
Outdoor A-frame signs are made from recycled milk bottles.
Directional and informational signs and banners are printed on an environmentally friendly Foam-Core alternative using recyclable and biodegradable materials.
The Fair strives to adopt eco-friendly measures:
- Use of environmentally-friendly cleaning products with low toxicity.
- As an alternative to vinyl table skirting, the Fair uses skirted linens that can be used for years.
- Use of new low-wattage halogen track lighting; new bulbs have longer-life expectancy and are more energy efficient.
- Use of recycled display walls for competitive exhibits in 40,000 square feet of Exhibit Hall and Redwood Foyer.
Pedal to The Fair
Fair guests can cycle to the fairgrounds and park their bike in the Bicycle Valet Parking area near the Main Gate, courtesy of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. Complimentary bicycle valet parking is available daily.
Green Fairgrounds Covering
Brocco and Sons of Sonoma use a magnesium chloride dust control product from the salt ponds of the San Francisco Bay to cover six acres on the fairgrounds. This dust treatment, used by organic vineyards and agriculture in the production of tofu, provides an earth-friendly and pedestrian-friendly covering for fair guests.
The Barnyard Goes Green
The Fair uses white pine wood shavings in the demonstration tent, on the Great American Pig Race track, and in the cages in the Fur and Feathers Tent, an absorbent and comfortable bedding for the Fair’s popular farm animals. Wood shavings, straw, and manure from the Barnyard is collected and then trucked to an organic farm in West Marin after the Fair.
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The Fair prints Fair publications from the poster to the Exhibitors Guide to stationery with recycled post-consumer paper content. The Fair issue of the Marin Center Magazine is produced with a new zero emissions printing process, with recycled paper content and non-toxic UV inks.
Awards - Getting Green
Thousands of Marinites receive trophies, plaques and blue, red and green ribbons as recognition of achievement. This year many of the special awards are made with recycled glass. Ribbons are made of processed wood pulp; unlike most man-made fibers, these ribbons come from a renewable resource and are biodegradable.
Becoming a Green Campus
The 50-acre Marin County Fairgrounds joined the Bay Area Green Business Program and became certified in April 2008.
Fair staff works with the Community Development Agency Sustainability Team to select and record measures and develop policies and programs that will help make the Marin County Fair healthy, vibrant, and sustainable for many generations into the future.
The fairgrounds are part of over 1,500 Bay Area businesses earning certification as a Green Business. For more information on the Green Business certification process, visit www.marinsustainability.org.
These public agencies, non-profit organizations, and companies guide and support the ongoing efforts of the Marin County Fair to incorporate sustainable business practices:
- Marin County Board of Supervisors
- Community Development Agency - Sustainability Team
- Conservation Corps North Bay
- Department of Parks and Open Space
- Department of Public Works
- Division of Fairs and Expositions
- California Energy Commission
- California Construction Authority
- Cultural Services Commission
- Healthy Marin Partnership
- Marin County Bicycle Coalition
- Marin Clean Energy
- Marin Energy Management Team
- Marin Municipal Water District
- Marin Sanitary Service
- Marin Master Gardeners
- North Bay Restaurant Services
- Play Fair Marin
- Revolutionary Green